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Taoiseach says ‘everything is on the table’ when asked if a trade war will result from UK’s plan to breach the NI Protocol

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin has indicated a trade war between the EU and Britain is on the table as he and Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte spoke about the consequences if the UK overrides an international treaty.

Speaking after they discussed the UK’s plans to override the Northern Ireland Protocol Mr Martin said: “This is about behaviour, how we behave towards each other.

"We sign agreements and there's an understanding that we adhere to the agreements.”

Asked if a trade war was possible in response to a British breach of the protocol, Mr Martin said: “It's very clear that everything's on the table in terms of any responses to what might happen.”

After meeting Mr Rutte at Farmleigh tonight the Taoiseach told journalists about a possible economically-severe EU response.

“The UK government has declared an intention to do something that hasn't happened yet,” he said.

“So we will be calibrated, and the European Union will take things step by step and do so in a sensible way, always mindful that we believe there's a way to resolve this.”
Mr Rutte said the Netherlands stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Ireland.

The four-times Dutch prime minister said if it was not possible to dissuade Britain from its announced unilateral action, “then we also have to take our next steps .”

He added: “I don't want out to to guesstimate about what they will be, because I don't think that’s helpful, but I think Boris Johnson will know very well what the next steps could be. Let's hope it doesn’t come to that.”

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The tougher words come after the Liz Truss announcement to the Commons last week of a British Bill to override some of the protocol provisions, followed by the lack of any expressed willingness to get back around the table except to say that it is up to the EU to make further concessions.

Mr Rutte was on a flying visit to his Irish counterpart, which culminated in a working dinner with Mr Martin at Farmleigh House, beside the Phoenix Park in Castleknock, Dublin.

The two leaders also discussed the war in Ukraine and its consequences, along with prospects for a complete EU oil and gas embargo of Russia, the NATO applications of Sweden and Finland, and a looming EU Council summit in Brussels next week.

Mr Rutte said: “I still get emotional when I think about what happened with the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

“Frankly, it was an historic moment. And this is all about preserving that agreement.

"Secondly, it is about preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland and then safeguarding the integrity of the EU single market. So we are talking about big stuff here.

“This is not just a international treaty, but a very big thing which we are talking about. I think the EU has shown maximum flexibility.

“I fully support as well what Maros Sefcovic has been doing so far, and he has the full backing of the EU 27, including the Netherlands.

“We will keep working with him and his team to ensure we somehow find a way out of this.”
Mr Martin added that the record is very clear that the European Union has already demonstrated full solidarity with Ireland over Brexit.

The current situation in Europe called for harmonious relationships, he added, with the European Union, UK and the the United States in alignment on the big geopolitical issues, a point already made by President Biden.

“There's an urgent need there to resolve issues of conflict. Unilateralism simply does not work. It has never worked in the context of the Good Friday Agreement.”

He said there was “a way to resolve this,” calling for “negotiations, proper discussions, that are substantive and serious.” The Taoiseach added: “They will make the difference here.”

 


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